CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 26. . . .March 11, 2016
Shimmer. (The Rephaim, Bk 3).
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2016.
400 pp., trade pbk. & epub, $19.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-848-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-850-1 (epub).
Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.
Review by Joan Marshall.
Next to me, Jude sucks in his breath. “Fuck. Me.”
The light eases enough for me to peer through my fingers. Nathaniel’s wings are unfurled, radiating light. They are breathtaking. Luminous. Massive. Every feather perfect. The tip of each wing touches the bookshelves either side of the library. Almost like the symbol in the iron room, except those wings weren’t attached to a fallen angel. I can’t take my eyes from Nathaniel, not even to check on Dani and Maria. I’ve seen his wings before – for a blinding moment on the mountain when he drove back the Gatekeepers – but not up close like this.
The light fades but the wings stay outstretched. Jude is so distracted he lets go of Daniel’s throat. Daniel pushes past him, straightens his shirt, and walks over to Nathaniel. It’s only then I see Jason has Maggie in the corner, shielding her with his body.
“It is remarkable,” Nathaniel says. “This child is worthy to be in my presence. As is her mother.”
It takes me a second to grasp the significance of his words and when it does, it’s like a kick in the chest. “You arsehole.”
“Gabe,” Daniel snaps. “Watch your mouth.”
“That could’ve killed them, couldn’t it?”
Nathaniel doesn’t blink. “You brought unsanctified humans into our Sanctuary. Did you not think I would test their worthiness?”
Gaby and her twin brother Jude are safe in the Sanctuary, an ancient Italian monastery warded to keep Demons out, where they and their group of Outcast Rephaim struggle to make a plan to rescue Rafa and Taya from the remote Iowa farmhouse where the Gatekeeper demons are torturing them, hoping to draw the Rephaim out of their safe haven. Nathaniel and the Five, tasked with finding the Rephaim and using them to find their fathers, the Fallen, refuse to help the Outcasts while they wait to hear from the Archangels of The Garrison. Frustrated beyond all understanding, Gaby and the Outcasts finally act on their own, using their human guests, Mick and Rusty, and their knowledge of rocket launches to destroy the iron room in the farmhouse and rescue Rafa and Taya. The Gatekeepers attack the Sanctuary but are driven off by Nathaniel. When Gaby learns that they plan to attack her home town of Pandamus Beach in Australia, the Outcasts shift there. As the book ends, Gaby and Jude suddenly remember their past lives. Book 4 to come.
In this brilliant Australian series about angels, so cleverly integrated with the human world, passions run high and violence erupts everywhere. Shimmer reveals more about the family in Iowa who are dedicated to dividing the Rephaim and keeping them from finding the Fallen. Jason, his relationship to the Iowa family, and the powers of his beloved 12-year-old Dani become clearer and indeed are integral to the plot of this book. The spy, Brother Stephen, who has fed the Iowa family information about the Rephaim for decades, is exposed. Gaby learns that Mya, the fearless Rephaim fighter, turns out to be part of the Iowa family, so is not surprised but certainly betrayed when Mya disappears with the family matriarch Virginia before she can tell her side of the story. The love affair between Rafa and Gaby is consummated. Through chats with some of the Rephaim, Gaby learns a little about her past life with them while she gradually regains her former powers. However, she and Jude remain in the dark about who might have wiped their memories clean and why.
Gaby has developed into a fearless fighter with high levels of energy that push her to be on the go constantly. The electricity between her and Rafa sends out sparks of sensuality and love. Her high anxiety, however, sometimes almost paralyzes her. Fortunately her brother’s strong support helps her to leash her powers and use them judiciously. Jude always has his sister’s back, defending her from physical and verbal attacks and helping her to plan ahead. Daniel, a former lover of Gaby and friend to Jude, remains loyal to Nathaniel even as he struggles to understand the Outcast’s motives. Nathaniel the archangel remains, as he has in past books, the enigmatic powerful tie between the Rephaim and the Garrison archangels, but his composure slips somewhat as he realizes that Gaby has kept secrets from him. He, of course, keeps secrets from everyone and relies on the unwavering support of the original band of Rephaim, a support that wavers when they learn that he has killed their mothers to fulfill a prophecy. The human rednecks, Mick and Rusty and their gang, are laugh-out-loud funny, which breaks the tension long enough for them to find their rocket launchers and unleash another round of destruction.
You can taste the mould, dust and cold in the Sanctuary, surrounded by frigid Italian forests. The cloisters, the bushes perfect for hiding in, the ancient trees and the Brothers’ tiny cells set the scene for an apocalyptic battle between Demons and Angels that will send shivers down your spine. Glorious fight scenes that are almost like dances tamp down the pressure and anxiety of how the Gatekeepers are treating Rafa and Taya. Who is who and who is on whose side is gradually revealed as Gaby and Jude slowly but surely acquire information and put two and two together.
The language is raw and unrestrained, reflecting the Rephaim’s temperaments and their desperation to rescue their comrades. The few Australian words, like mate for friend, are understood completely through context. Here is a story that just happens, with no tedious telling. It’s compelling. It’s fascinating. It’s a must-read for any high school student interested in fantasy.
Joan Marshall is a Winnipeg, MB, bookseller.
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